Race Recap: Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10k

This recap is long overdue. Like, a couple of weeks. For some reason, I just wasn’t feeling like wrapping it up. Not sure why, but it may have had something to do with the miserable weather. I was excited to have my sister join me for this race, and I’d been looking forward to it for some time. My first “real” run since the Bayshore Half Marathon, the Lilac Festival 10k was sure to be fun. And it was — just a different kind of fun than I expected.

My sister and I turned it into a mini vacation, a roadtrip of sorts. Mackinac Island — the carless, fudge-filled island at the tip of the Mitt — is a mere two hours from our parents’ house, but it feels like worlds away. It was an escape both of us needed. We stocked up on snacks. Well, mainly gummy bears — a Rosebud Roadtrip tradition. Those and beef jerky. But somehow we ended up jerky-less this go-round. A disaster not to be repeated next time we hit the road.

Road Trippin' Rosebuds

The Rosebuds hit the road.

The drive was pretty uneventful. Lots of laughs. Maybe some tears — brought on ridiculous amounts of laughter. Gummy bears. And some delicious Mexican food. Sister even got a fist bump from a random server at the restaurant. As we pulled into our hotel, we got scared. I honestly don’t know if it could even be called a hotel. It was more like the remnants of a hotel one might see in some kind of thriller set in the northern Michigan wilderness. They even had old-school keys to open the doors. I won’t go into depth on the hotel because it was, most certainly, the low-light of the trip. Picture the worst 1970s décor you’ve ever seen — and multiply its hideousness by about six, and you have that hotel. I don’t care that it was only $49 a night. I’d never stay there again. Although, the continental breakfast (the feature by which I judge all hotels) wasn’t that bad, except for the fact that we had to walk to the hotel next door to eat it.

I was a little worried that the decades-old mattress would keep me up all night. But, as far as sleep went, though, once I blocked out the scary sites in the room, I was able to get a good night’s sleep before the race.

Sleeping Mask Pic

Rosebud may have teased me, but it kept the scary room out of my sight while I fell asleep. The earplugs kept out the sounds let in by the paper-thin walls.

We had to catch the first ferry to the island in the morning in order to find a locker and make it to the race on time. On the way to the ferry dock, it started raining. Hard. And it didn’t let up. This was, quite honestly, one of the first times I’d seriously considered throwing in the towel — it was drenched and no good to me, anyway. The rain was a steady, cold rain. It was not the kind of rain I typically enjoy joining me on my runs. Rather, it was the kind that sunk deep into your whole being and took hold of you from the inside out. It was no fun. At all. And I think Rosebud and I only decided to run the race because the other one did.

on the boat

Smiling through the misery as we wait for the ferry to head out. We could barely see out the window because of the rain.

Once we arrived at the island, we had about a half-mile walk to the school to pick up our packets and our shirts. The shirts. Eh. I call it my “naked running shirt” because when I put it on, I look naked. The khaki color is so far away from flattering that it’s not even funny. Unfortunately, it was still pouring at this point, so we couldn’t didn’t want to walk back to the boat dock where we’d stashed our things in a locker. So Rosebud and I put our race shirts on over the ones we’d worn. (After, that is, I tried to roll it up and put it down my pants for the run. Yeah. Neither comfortable nor attractive.) At this point, we were committed to the race. We were already drenched, so what did it matter. As all the runners walked down to the starting line, Rosebud and I were ready to run. We both lined up at our respective places — me toward the front, Rosebud toward the back of the pack. (One reason I love racing with Rosebud is that she lets me go at my pace without making me feel guilty for “leaving her behind.”)

This 10k course went through downtown Mackinac Island, up the hill, through the center of the island and back to the finish line along the shore. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, though tough, course — even in the rain. Before the first mile was done, we’d climbed more than 220 feet in pretty much a straight-up shot. But we got it out of the way early and I was feeling great. My pace was good, and I was having fun. I didn’t even mind having to dodge large piles of horse manure — though it did skeeve me out a little when I saw a man running barefoot step in a couple piles of it.

I crossed the finish line at 1:00:01, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

After the race

Feelin' good about my race — I even got to wear my Bayshore jacket for the race.

It was a good race, despite my cranky attitude about the rain. Actually, the bad attitude disappeared as soon as I heard “go.” Running always makes me happy, and nothing can compare to the energy of a crowd of runners at the starting line. After I finished, I ran to our locker to grab my camera and cell phone and then I headed back out to meet Rosebud — when we start a race together, we finish together. No questions asked. Besides, since I had the camera we got some great in-run photos as she finished her race with me along for the ride.

I was expecting to have a good couple of miles to run back to meet Rosebud. But as I got back out on the course about a mile, who should come around the corner but my amazing sister — moving faster than her Bayshore 10k pace! I couldn’t have been more proud. We had a great time laughing, chatting and taking photos as she finished. She was only about a couple of minutes behind her actual finish time for Bayshore, but since the island run was only chip finish and not chip start, I’m pretty certain she took a couple of minutes off that time.


Taking a break from snack-eating to get a picture.

We fooled around at the finish line a little bit, eating snacks and doing a little stretching.


More "posing for the camera" than stretching, but it felt good nonetheless.

We’d planned on hanging out on the island for the afternoon, but it was wet and cold. So, we did what any cold, tired people do after a race. We bought loads of fudge. And took a few dozen photos.


While it was too cold to actually enjoy the Lilac Festival, we just had to get a photo (or six) with the pretty, fragrant flowers.

Bridge Behind

Though you can barely see it, the Mackinac Bridge is behind me. That's the five-mile bridge I get to run on Labor Day.

head bump

The most imporant thing to come out of this race? A new pre- and post-race tradition: The Rosebud Head Bump.

After our photo shoot (which tends to happen whenever The Rosebud Sisters come to town), we headed back to the ferry and back to the mainland. By this time, we were cold and hungry. And while we had planned on getting pizza, all I wanted was soup and salad and a mug of green tea. But first, we both had to change out of our wet clothes. I’m not sure exactly what the restaurant staff thought, but Rosebud and I did a quick clothes and, most important, shoe change.

Wet Shoes

Yes, those are our soaking wet running shoes under the table at the restaurant. No worries, we were wearing dry ones.

And then … I got my tea.

Warming up with tea

A nice, hot mug of green tea was just what this chilled-to-the-bone runner needed after the race.

We were pretty exhausted on the drive home — I was thankful Rosebud was driving. We went home a different way so we could make a stop that had been a family tradition since we were very little. Every time we headed to the Upper Peninsula to our family’s hunting camp (where we took our only vacations when I was growing up) we stopped at “the tiny church,” and Rosebud and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to relive our childhood memories have a photo shoot.

There's always time for a photo shoot at the tiny church.

All in all, the race was good. But even better? The company. The memories. The laughter. The love. Running has brought my sister and me even closer together. And for that I will forever be grateful.



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2 responses to “Race Recap: Mackinac Island Lilac Festival 10k

  1. wendy warren

    Thanks for taking me along…reading this made me feel just like I was there. I’m so glad you stopped by the little church. It always made me feel so good to visit there.


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